Men’s Mental Health-How can ART Help?

Written by Lauren Faylor

As June honors Men’s Mental Health Month, the topic of men’s mental health has begun to gain the attention it desperately needs. The issues and statistics surrounding men’s mental health are concerning, with depression and suicide as leading causes of death among men. In the United States alone, six million men suffer from depression annually. Men die by suicide at a rate four times higher than women, and they are also more likely to engage in substance misuse and other dangerous coping behaviors.

Despite the progress of increasing awareness, a significant barrier remains: stigma. Stigma can manifest in various ways, from societal perceptions to internalized shame, and it plays a crucial role in why men often hesitate to seek help for their mental health issues.

Understanding Stigma

The stigma surrounding men’s mental health is multifaceted. It includes social stigma, self-stigma, professional stigma, and cultural stigma. 

  • Social stigma refers to negative attitudes and beliefs about individuals with mental health issues, often rooted in misconceptions that these individuals are weak or have flawed character. 
  • Self-stigma occurs when individuals internalize these societal attitudes, leading to feelings of shame and inadequacy. 
  • Professional stigma involves healthcare providers who may unintentionally perpetuate these negative beliefs, preventing men from getting the help they need.
  • Cultural stigma encompasses the various ways different cultures perceive and handle mental health issues​​.

The Impact on Men

Traditional masculine norms often discourage men from expressing vulnerability or seeking help, reinforcing the idea that they should be stoic and self-reliant. This cultural expectation can lead men to hide their struggles, avoid seeking professional help, and, in some cases, turn to harmful behaviors such as substance abuse to cope with their emotions​​.

“In attempting to understand this issue, many explanations have been offered. One long-standing hypothesis critiques restrictive ideals of traditional masculinity (e.g., strength and stoicism) as contradicting the emotional vulnerability and communication needed to access and fully engage with effective psychological treatment” Engaging Men in Psychological Treatment: A Scoping Review

Research indicates that these societal pressures contribute significantly to the higher rates of suicide among men. Reluctance to seek help is a critical factor, as men often feel the need to maintain a facade of strength. The consequences of this can be devastating. Men may feel isolated and unsupported, leading to a deterioration in their mental health and an increased risk of suicide​.

“…a man’s sense of self tends to be more reliant on the experience of independence, distinction, and separation from others. Thus, male patients may prefer a form of treatment that provides them with a relationship that allows them to maintain some emotional distance and a sense of independence. Such a relationship tends to be more characteristic of interpretive (expressive) therapies” Effect of Patient Gender on Outcome in Two Forms of Short-Term Individual Psychotherapy

Ineffective Help

When men do seek help, services often fall short.  One study showed over 60% of men who died by suicide in Canada and the United States had accessed mental health services within the previous year.

 Men frequently feel that providers mislabel and underestimate their needs, often due to providers’ gender biases and diagnostic tools not accounting for gender differences. Research shows that mental health providers may misdiagnose psychological issues in men, mistakenly believing men should simply “man up” and stop showing weakness.

Even when men do seek help, they often encounter additional challenges. According to a study involving bereaved men who lost a loved one to suicide, three key themes emerged regarding the help-seeking behaviors of the deceased: 

  • The concealment of their need for help
  • Feeling hopeless about an unmanageable illness
  • The receipt of ineffectual support from services and systems​​ 

Often, when men take the crucial step of reaching out for help, the support they receive can sometimes be inadequate or ineffective, further reinforcing their reluctance to seek help in the future.

How could ART help speak to the specific mental health struggles men experience?

Knowing what we know about the struggles of men in seeking mental health treatment, ART is a promising solution for several reasons:

ART is noninvasive.  It doesn’t require you to share all the details of trauma.  

Sharing the details about a traumatic instance may often feel embarrassing or overwhelming for men who have a difficult time communicating. With ART, going into detail and relaying the details of a traumatic event is optional. An ART therapist will ask a client to visualize the traumatic scene while administering eye movements. Afterward, they will follow up by asking about experienced sensations and emotions, not details.

Choosing to keep the details a secret can be relieving and allow men to feel more in control.

ART uses Visual and Metaphorical Techniques

Men may often struggle with words to describe their feelings and trauma. 

ART utilizes an emotional scale at the beginning of the session that provides a list of emotions. This helps men choose the appropriate words to describe what they are feeling. The ART therapist will guide men in identifying emotions, corresponding sensations, and their corresponding locations in their bodies.

ART also uses visualization and metaphors to help men reframe distressing memories. This approach is compelling for men who respond better to visual or action-oriented approaches.

ART helps clients retain Empowerment and Control

Men may often feel powerless and frustrated about their symptoms, which can lead to more frustration. ART empowers individuals by allowing them to take control of their healing process. The client controls their ART session while their therapist gently guides them. Men can decide how their sessions unfold, which can be particularly beneficial for those who value autonomy and self-reliance.

Rapid Results

As statistics show that men are more likely to die by suicide than women, rapid interventions are often needed.  Men who have experienced frustrations with their mental health care after reaching out for health may feel hopeless. When someone feels this way, interventions that take months or years to show results are not helpful.

Past testimonials report that ART has been effective in clients with suicidal intent and leaves them with greater optimism for the future.

ART often achieves results in one to five sessions, much quicker than traditional therapy methods. The short duration of the therapy can be appealing to men who might be hesitant to commit to long-term treatment.

By addressing the unique challenges men face in mental health treatment, ART offers a promising solution to break the stigma and provide productive, empowering care.

Find an ART-trained therapist near you.



Men and mental health: What are we missing? | AAMC

​​Males and Mental Health 

Help-seeking prior to male suicide: Bereaved men perspectives

Effect of Patient Gender on Outcome in Two Forms of Short-Term Individual Psychotherapy – PMC

Engaging Men in Psychological Treatment: A Scoping Review – PMC

Come Passion – IngeniumBooks